Vancouver, BC is one of the great Pacific coast cities. However, if you plan to vacation around in “Terminal City,” consider the following little tricks that may make driving easier.
Don’t Forget the Metric
Be sure to be able to convert American miles into kilometers. Canada has used the metric system since the 1970s. Canadians may refer informally to feet and inches, but three generations of drivers have gotten used to traffic signs listing km/hr. 50 km an hour is a common Vancouver speed limit, close to 31 miles an hour. Remember, too, that gasoline is measured in liters. So if you’re planning on going to any far out points or if you’re going to be in the city for several days, it’s important to keep these things in mind.
Mind the Left Lane
Being a visitor in a different place means you’re usually pretty courteous and cautious, but all the same you should be aware of this. Drivers in Canada tend to ignore the custom in the US that slower drivers stick to lanes on the right. You might encounter drivers in the left lane sticking strictly to the posted speed limit. Be courteous and pass safely on the right if you must. Drivers also tend to drive a little faster than the posted limit, which is common to many other areas.
Look for Bike Lanes
In its quest to lead the world as an environmentally friendly city, you may notice that there are bike lanes everywhere in Metropolitan Vancouver. At an intersection, green paint often indicates the presence of a bike lane. Like some places in the States, bike lanes are sometimes located between the street and adjacent parking spaces.
Concentrate on Driving
Like other cities, Vancouver has its share of drivers distracted by their cell phones, food or other items. If you are tempted to read a map in attempting to find your destination, use a voice-activated GPS instead. Be warned though, the police have begun to increasingly crack down on distracted drivers and can issue tickets with fines of upwards of several hundreds of Canadian dollars. The RCMP website lists not just selfies on its list of infractions but also smoking, grooming and even playing loud music. Keep your eyes—and ears—on the road.
No Freeway Can Mean Big Traffic Snarls
Vancouver remains unique in that no freeway runs through its downtown, The Trans-Canada Highway, also known as Highway 1, runs through the city’s eastern edge, but other freeways turn into normal streets upon entering the city. Vancouverites generally feel that this has made for a more livable city. This also means that downtown Vancouver experiences bad traffic snarls, particularly at rush hour. Avoid downtown rush-hour traffic by taking this eastern route. Take the Knight Street Bridge, located near the airport, to connect to Highway 1.
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